7 things I wish I knew before buying wooden garden furniture

Planning on investing in some wooden furniture for your garden? Read this first...

A blooming garden with a garden furniture and parasol set
(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

As we ease into the lazy hazy days of summer, there's no better feeling than relaxing in our own gardens – so it makes sense that many of us are thinking about investing in some timeless pieces that will allow us to do just that. There are, however, a few things I wish I knew before buying wooden garden furniture.

From the top garden furniture deals to the best garden furniture stores, it's well worth doing your research before you start spending your hard-won pennies on an outdoor table or egg chair. And that's especially true if you're looking for a wooden number.

With that in mind, then, it's time to press pause on your favourite outdoor dining ideas (just for a moment, we promise) and allow us and our favourite garden experts to bestow our best advice upon you...

7 things I wish I knew before buying wooden garden furniture

Look, let's face facts: there's nothing quite like investing in the best wooden garden furniture. Timeless and elegant, it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to any outdoor space, whether it be a patio, modern garden, or rustic cottage garden.

That being said, there's no denying that wooden furniture is likely set to cost you more than its rattan, plastic, and aluminium counterparts, which is why it's worth spending at least a bit of time researching before you buy.

A blooming garden with a garden furniture and parasol set

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

'Wood is beautiful and ages gracefully, but remember that “new” look won’t last long –so look at what it’ll be in five years' time to decide if you like the colour,' advises award-winning garden designer Zoe Claymore.

Zoe Claymore - headshot
Zoe Claymore

Zoe Claymore is a multi award-winning garden designer based in London. She focuses on creating outdoor places with emotional connection and ecological integrity for her private and commercial clients.

As well as thinking ahead, here are all the things I wish I knew before buying wooden garden furniture.

1. Consider your gathering size

One of the most important things I wish I knew before buying wooden garden furniture is this: you really do have to tailor it to your own personal needs, rather than copy what everyone else is doing.

'The first thing to consider is about how you plan to use the furniture and how many people you would be looking to host in your outdoor space,' says Charlie Alexander, Founder of Oxenwood.

'Are you looking for a cosy garden spot for intimate gatherings, or do you need ample seating for entertaining large groups and family? There's nothing worse than feeling cramped during a meal, so choose tables and seating that provide enough space for everyone to relax and enjoy themselves.'

2. And don't forget to consider how you use your garden

nglish country garden in summer, white cotton hammock, wrought iron and wood garden furniture, white vintage style parasol, floor cushions, large wicker basket full of apples.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

'There are so many ways to enjoy outdoor space, from dining to relaxing on a sofa, sunbathing on a sunny day, or even setting up a garden nap station,' says garden furniture expert Emily Murison of Gates Garden Centre fame.

'How you make the most use of your garden will determine the best garden furniture for you to invest in, with dining sets for alfresco food lovers, and loungers for sun seekers,' she continues, adding that a casual garden lounge set (like the purse-friendly Choncey Brent Lounge Set with Cushions from Wayfair) is ideal for those who want the best of both worlds.

'These offer total flexibility, and usually have adjustable tables which can be set high or low, depending on the occasion,' she explains.

3. Factor in the weather and climate

Another of the most important things I wish I'd known before buying wooden garden furniture is that my choices should have been steered by my area's average weather forecast.

'You need to consider the climate and weather conditions in your area,' says Charlie, who goes on to explain that, if you live in an area with harsh winters or frequent rain, 'you'll want to choose furniture that can withstand the elements all year round and which requires minimal maintenance'.

'Choose quality hardwoods like oak, teak or iroko,' he adds. 'It’s worth investing in outdoor furniture that will last the test of time and require less maintenance. Solid oak is a great choice; known for its durability and longevity, ensuring your investment lasts for years to come whilst adding a touch of timeless style to your outdoor space.'

4. Make sure it fits your aesthetic

Round garden table painted in white with blue stripes

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

When buying wooden garden furniture, it's important to remember it will likely become a focal point in your outdoor space – which is why it's important you choose something that fits with your personal style.

'Think about the style and aesthetic you want to achieve in your garden or outdoor space,' says Charlie, who insists that 'bespoke furniture offers endless customisation options, allowing you to create a unique hosting area that extends your interior’s style to the outdoors'.

'For those drawn to a more structured, polished look, consider sleek lines, minimalistic designs and matching wooden garden benches. Or if you prefer the warmth and character of a traditional French farmhouse style, opt for furniture with more rustic charm and pair it alongside other natural materials such as Belgian Bluestone tabletops and paving, or rattan dining chairs.'

5. Think about where you're going to put it

One of the many things I wish I'd known before buying wooden garden furniture is this: always choose where you're going to put it before you buy it.

'Visualise the set in the space,' says Emily. 'If you want sun or shade, observe where this occurs in your garden to decide where to put your set. And remember that using a surfaced area is probably best, whether it is a decked or a paved area.'

This, she says, will prevent your garden set sinking into the lawn, and it will also allow a flat surface to ensure everything stays stable.

'Many quality garden sets come with adjustable feet, so you won’t have to put up with a wobbly coffee table even if you have an uneven surface,' adds Emily sagely.

6. Don’t forget about environmental sustainability

outdoor table in narrow garden with garden room at the end

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Sustainable gardens will forever be in trend, so don't forget to make eco-friendly choices when buying your wooden garden furniture.

'It’s important to prioritise environmental sustainability when making your purchase, and opting for furniture made from sustainably sourced materials like solid FSC and PEFC oak not only benefits the environment but also ensures that your investment is ethically sound,' explains Charlie.

'Before finalising your decision, enquire about the manufacturer's sustainability practices ensuring sustainable sourcing of the wood and production.'

7. And always measure up first

Last but not least, one of the most important things I wish I knew before buying wooden garden furniture is this: always, always, always measure up first!

'Once you’ve decided the best place to put your garden furniture set, check the dimensions of your area, and then check the dimensions of any furniture you’re looking to buy,' says Emily.

'Remember to think about access, leg room and whether you need a bit more space to pull out chairs and benches.'


Is wooden garden furniture OK in the rain?

If you're wondering whether or not wooden garden furniture is OK in the rain, it's well worth knowing that there are some types of wood that fare better in wet weather than others.

'Not all wood is equal,' advises award-winning garden designer Zoe Claymore. 'So, if you can invest in hardwood furniture (such as teak and oak), know that it will last longer than softwood, especially in less than favourable weather conditions.

She adds that all wood should, at the very least, be pressure treated to add some extra protection. Or you could get your DIY on and add a sealant topcoat, such as Frenchic’s Tuff Top Coat.

Is wooden outdoor furniture good?

Wooden outdoor furniture may need a little TLC at times, but it's beautiful and long-lasting, not to mention a timeless addition to any garden – especially if chosen with care.

'A wooden garden furniture set will create a new focal point in the garden space, and it’s, therefore, an exciting process as you get to express your taste in décor outside as well as indoors in your home,' says garden furniture expert Emily Murison from Gates Garden Centre.

'When you are considering colours, lighter shades like Sandstone suit more traditional garden designs, whilst darker colours like Dove Grey can bring a more contemporary feel to the outdoor space,' she continues.

'Some garden furniture manufacturers make popular styles in a choice of colours with complimentary cushions, so keep an eye out for this.'

You can even learn how to paint garden furniture if you'd like a truly customised look.

How do I keep my wooden garden furniture from rotting?

The easiest way to keep wooden garden furniture from rotting is to, firstly, pick a set that is made from quality hardwood, such as oak, teak or iroko.

Once that's done, you can take a few extra steps to keep your new set safe. For example, it's a good idea to apply a wood varnish or preservative once a year, not to mention invest in a furniture cover (such as the Gracious Gardens Rectangular Garden Furniture Covers Waterproof from Amazon) to use during wet or cold weather.

Most importantly of all, try to store your wooden garden furniture inside during the winter, whether that be in your garden shed or garage.

And there we have it: the things I wish I knew before buying wooden garden furniture, shared in the hope that it'll keep you from making any expensive mistakes when choosing your own.

Once you've done your homework, all that's left to do is invest in the set that makes you happiest, and get relaxing in the summer sunshine. We'll meet you on the deck for a cool glass of Pimm's...

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.